We chose North Crest for the abiltiy to access it from either the Tram or from the Hwy ending at the Crest House and because we could descend first and then ascend on the back end of the hike back to the Crest House parking lot. The winds were uncharacteristically calm for Sandia Crest. This is a great trail for its countless views to both the east and west, green forested mountain peaks vs high desert mesas, respectively.
North Crest trail begins with a presentation of modern technology on your left as you follow the fence protecting the “electronic site” for a great distance. For those of you not familiar with Albuquerque, Sandia being one of the highest peaks in the state is also home to all things television, radio and cellular. Probably 50 towers transmit and receive from the Crest. Immediately upon the end of the fence you are ironically greeted by a US Forest Service sign proclaiming “Wilderness”, just don’t turn around, the “electronic forest” is over your left shoulder.
The trail descends here into a fairly dense tree line. Since it usually snows and is wind beaten up here the vegetation is hardy, comprised of aspens, and conifers. Only small traces of snow exist along the trail. True to its name, the Crest trail closely follows the edge of the mountain, we took several 100 ft or so spur trails to avail ourselves of views of miles of the Rio Grande valley and points west. A variety of mountain outcroppings and canyons are also observed.
About 3 miles into the trail we have descended several hundred feet and eastern views also become more prevalent. The vegetation is more windswept, lower to the ground and much more dried out or devoid of deciduous leaves. There are a couple of stone benches in this area overlooking the valley and with northwest views. Another ¼ mile with steep descent we come upon the Placitas overlook at 11:30 a.m., time for a snack, photos and consideration of the return trip UP.